Friday, August 20, 2010

Are you Spending Quality Time with your WIP?

Am I asking a too obvious a question? Ofcourse, you all must be spending every waking moment and  few sleepy ones  too, thinking of your Works In Progress. I am sure your characters visit your dreams. Mine don’t, though I dream  a lot about  books.

For the past few weeks I realized that too many things were staking their claim on my time. My priorities were getting topsy turvy. From being on top my WIP had slipped to the bottom of my  priority pile. And that was a BAD thing. How would I able to do justice to my manuscript if I just did not spend any time with it. Would I even be able to see its strengths ( I wish it has atleast  a few). Would I be able to pinpoint its weaknesses (never mind).

If we want to get to know a person we do spend some time acquainting ourselves with their likes and dislikes, getting to know them a bit more intimately ( now don't get any wise ideas). All I mean is  familiarizing ourselves  with their tastes, learning what keeps them ticking, what are their turn offs and what touches them the most. I am very  aware  of   what is happening  in  all  my close friends’  lives, actually they update me about their status frequently and not just via facebook, but via long winded phonecalls.

So, isn’t it our duty to get to know our WIP more closely? Afterall  our WIP  is  going to be one of our  closest friends  for a long, long  time. How do we do that? Well….there are several ways. I love listening to music. That’s the quality  time I   spend with my manuscript. I plug in the ear phones and pick up a blank sheet of paper and start getting  to know my manuscript more closely.

All my thoughts about my manuscript  make their appearance on that sheet. What is the story about. Does it have a single turning point or several.  Is my MC unique? How can I make her  standout? Am I  saying something new or recycling the old thoughts. Can I add an unusual element to the story that a reader has not come across before (this exercise made me add two  new features to my MG manuscript). I just wonder where these inventions were hiding inside my mind.

Are these situations a little different  from the other books. Why should a child pick up my book and not someone elses? What more can I offer in this chapter? Am I introducing anything new here (that particular train of thought made me add a love quadrangle). One boy and three girls, with my MC being one of them.  It has added an entire new angle to the story.

As the music changes so do my thoughts. Can  I increase the conflict, make the protagonist and antagonist clash  some more before the grand finale. How do I make their clashes interesting? Which element can I add  to their battle that has not surfaced in other MG books?

I have decided to continue this bonding exercise  for many more days. Its opening up hitherto tightly closed parts of my mind, clearing up all the clutter and blowing away the cobwebs. And listening to music makes me happy and being with my manuscript more so. I realized that I hardly knew my manuscript, but, now I  am getting to know it better and better.

How do you all spend quality time with your beloveds, I mean manuscripts. Your literary significant other. How do you get to know your manuscripts better? Do you have any bonding tips for  us to try out?


  1. I usually do. I'm usually so in love with my WIP I can't stand it. It gives such a sweet ache. Lately I've been hijacked by life. I plan on resuming my love affair today. ;)

  2. It's very important to understand your manuscript and your characters and to spend a good portion of time everyday working with them. At the same time, it's important to have away time from writing. Last year I wrote a post about how writers have to have breaks from the stories in their head otherwise it could get unhealthy and bad consequences come from that.

    So while I work hard on my manuscript and spend lots of time thinking about it I also spend time away doing other things.


  3. Oo.. I love all the questions you asked about your WIP as you got to know it a little better. Music is really important to me -- I listen mainly to soundtracks because they are so emotive. I look at my MS every day, think about it often and try to immerse myself into the characters' world.

  4. Rachna,I LOVE how you describe this. I also listen to music and find it helps me connect emotionally with the events in the ms, but I've never used it quite like this and I plan to! Thanks for the food for thought!

  5. Anne...I too tend to be in love with my WIP, it makes it difficult to be away from it for too long.

    Jai....I agree with you on both the counts, that it is important to spend a good portion of time everyday working on our manuscripts and also have some time away from it to get things in better perspective.

    Lynda...I started this exercise, that is listening to music while spending quality time with my manuscript just a month back. Listening to music really soothes me and I like spending those extra minutes with my beloved WIP.

    Victoria...try this method, it really works. In my case its opening up my mind and directing it towards unusual paths which may surprise my readers.

  6. I live in Anna and Claire's world. I love it there. And I love your thoughts. You are THE one, Rachna. Excellent post, my friend. :)

  7. I neglected my wip today, and my mind is scrambling! I need a date night with my wip, for sure.

  8. I often feel like my MC lives next door to me, or maybe around the corner. Here I am in hot Sacramento, sweeping the patio or maybe pulling weeds, or maybe just catching up on e-mail -- things that really have to get done! But around the corner it's Victorian England and Imogene is listening at the parlor doorway to find out what's happening. The maid and the cook are gossiping in the kitchen. The butler is snoring in the butler's pantry. I can see them in my mind's eye, and speculate about them the way one would about real neighbors. Once chores are over, it's a case of absence makes the heart grow fonder: I can't wait to get back to them. If spending time with them means thinking about them on your off hours, I would have to say I spend a lot of time with these people even when I'm not at my computer!